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Review: Fiz - the Brewery Management Game

Games were always a treasure trove of knowledge for me. Like good books, they made me think and exposed me to new experiences. So imagine my surprise when I went looking for a casual management game to play on a mobile phone and found Fiz, the brewery management game. Management games is a genre I always liked, and a brewery... Well, as you can imagine, the combination of these two words piqued my curiosity. I purchased it immediately. And what I found inside was a fun and educational game which can turn any Bud Light drinker into a competent craft beer aficionado.

Platforms: IOS, Android, Price: USD $2.00

The main idea is straightforward. You are in charge of a small craft brewery. Your job is to assemble a team of employees and make your name in the brewing world. You start off with a couple of simple recipes and a corner store owned by a virtual buddy of yours to sell your beer at. The game also provides you with a small quantity of basic yeast, water, hops and malt. Each recipe consists of a 3x3 grid where you can place your ingredients according to your wish or let the recipe do it for you. The brewery has four workstations: sanitizing, mashing and boiling, fermenting and bottling. Assign each employee to one of them according to their skills and you are ready to brew. With each completed batch they will gain experience and become more proficient.

When a batch is ready you can place it in storage or let it hit the market right away. In the beginning you only have access to your buddy's corner shop, but the selection will increase soon. Each marketplace is visited by a number of patrons each month. They in turn have preferences toward certain beer types and pricing. The marketplaces also differ in respect to shelf space, stock fee, commision and beers sold by competitors. All of this is for you to figure out through market research. If you matched the expectations of the customers, your batch will fly off the shelves. If not, you might net a loss.

Simple, right? Maybe in the beginning. Soon the options will unravel and this is where the game shows its true colours. As your employees learn the craft you will be handed certain flexibility in the brewing process. You can focus on speeding up the process, increasing the size of the batch or improving quality. You can charge more for high-quality beer and it is necessary to win customers from competing brands. Selling at the corner store yields only minimal profit. To become a brewing tycoon you need to get access to picky palates at those fancy hipster pubs and specialized beer boutiques. From time to time the game will also throw you an opportunity to tout your skills in various competitions and through custom jobs. How about brewing a woody, earthy beer for a sad lumberjack? The rewards are worth it.

But nobody can conquer the world with a simple pale lager recipe. And here comes the educational value of the game. So far I have counted more than twenty five styles of beer. That's styles, not individual recipes. The description for each style is concise yet informative. The recipes for individual beers state the kind of malt and hops (and eventual adjuncts) you need to use to achieve a correct result. There are around fifteen types of malt and same amount of types of hops, again, each with their own description. You are also free to mix the ingredients on your own. What will happen if you use dextrine malt and add lots of East Kent Golding and Centennial hops together with Irish moss? Who knows! Probably nothing you can sell but the potential for exploration is there. The variety of ingredients and descriptions makes Fiz into a handy reference sheet and a great start for any novice to start exploring the complex world of craft beers.

The presentation is modest but not spartan. The charming old school 8-bit graphics meld well with the style of the game. The background music gets a bit repetitive after a while but you can always switch it off. You control the majority of actions through menus and static interface. It would be nice to see more dynamic environments than just the brewing room but it does not diminish the immersive gameplay. Fiz is streamlined. It could have reached SimCity-esque level complexity with added payroll, marketing and equipment placement mechanics but the developers chose to focus on the most important aspect: the art of brewing.

So grab your beergnorant (see what I did there?) friends' phones, install Fiz on them and soon they will be discussing with you the merits of adding Hauentaler hops to Rauchbier. At 2 USD it provides extremely good value for the money even to wine buffs or teetotalers and comes as a fully functional package, without any microtransactions. The developers listen to user feedback and push updates. In short, it is a wonderfully streamlined, engaging and humorous game at a very good price. And it happens to be about beer.